Do you know what type of parent you are? According to experts, there are actually many different types of parenting. The three most common types of parenting are:

  • permissive parenting
  • authoritative parenting
  • authoritarian parenting

The three main types of parenting are on a type of “sliding scale” of parenting, with permissive parenting as the least strict type of parenting. Permissive parenting typically has very few rules, while authoritarian parenting is thought of as a very strict, rule-driven type of parenting.

What is authoritarian parenting?

Authoritarian parenting is the strictest style of parenting. It takes on a more “traditional” approach in which children are expected to be seen and not heard. According to Diana Baumrind, the psychologist who developed the original analysis of parenting types, authoritarian parenting comes from the parent’s belief that a child’s behavior and attitude should be shaped by a strict standard of conduct.

Some of the characteristics of authoritarian parenting include:

  • a heavy emphasis on rules that are set by the parents, without any real explanation for why the rules exist
  • the expectation of complete obedience — children are expected to follow and obey all rules without questioning
  • swift and strict punishment for breaking or questioning the rules
  • children are not encouraged to express themselves and “talking back” is not allowed
  • not very “warm,” intimate, or nurturing — parents may not be physically or emotionally close to their children
  • choices are limited for children

How is it different from other parenting styles?

Permissive parenting

Permissive parenting is pretty much the exact opposite of authoritarian parenting. Parents set the tone that “anything goes” very early on in their parenting journey. Instead of strict rules, permissive parents don’t set any rules or expectations for their children. Obedience isn’t expected or even encouraged, and there aren’t any consequences or discipline.

This parenting style may seem more warm, intimate, and loving, but there are no boundaries. Parental figures are seen more as friends than parents. Permissive parenting is also sometimes referred to as “indulgent” parenting, because parents may indulge their children’s whims and poor behavior.

Authoritative parenting

This type of parenting can be thought of as a middle ground on the scale of parenting types. Authoritative parenting uses rules and discipline, but it’s used with respect to a child’s individual personality. It encourages respect and intimacy, along with a loving relationship.

How does it affect children?

Overall, most research has found that the strictest form of authoritarian parenting is associated with more negative effects in children. These effects include:

  • showing poor social skills
  • lower levels of self-esteem
  • higher levels of depression

If harsh punishment such as yelling is used, it’s also more likely to lead to behavioral problems in children and adolescents. They may grow up normalizing more violence-based behaviors.

It’s important to note that in many cases, parents do not stay in one category of parenting. A parent of a young toddler, for example, may practice more authoritarian style parenting and expect a toddler to simply obey a rule not to touch a hot stove. A parent of a teen, however, may act more as an authoritative parent and discuss why a rule about texting and driving exists, and encourage more feedback from the child.

How does it affect parents?

Parenting styles tend to be passed down from generation to generation. So, if a parent was raised in a very strict authoritarian style, they may be more likely to parent in the same way. On the other hand, experiencing very rigid forms of parenting as a child may cause a parent to raise their own children in the complete opposite way.

Although most studies seem to suggest that authoritative parenting is the “best” kind of parenting for children, it’s not always that simple. Some types of needs may make implementing a certain type of parenting style harder.

For example, one study found that parents of children with developmental disabilities had much higher levels of stress when they tried to practice authoritative parenting.

In families with typically developing children, there isn’t much of a difference in reported stress levels for parents among the three types of parenting. This suggests that parental styles may be chosen based on what is most comfortable to the parent.


There are many different styles of parenting, but that doesn’t mean that you have to choose only one. Some aspects of each style might be right for your family, so research the different styles to come up with your own approach to parenting that works best for you and your child.

Remember, though, that relying on physical punishment and yelling as your main ways to try and change your child’s behavior has been associated with more behavior problems as time goes on.

If there is a parenting situation that you feel like you could use some help with, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional.